Cold spell dooms Lake Region State as Northeast Oklahoma A&M runs away with 84-42 win
LUBBOCK, Texas – Maria Suarez and Jennah Coffman each scored a game-high 16 points, and Northeast Oklahoma A&M held Lake Region State scoreless for almost 11 minutes in running away with an 84-42 victory in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
NEO took advantage of Lake Region’s cold shooting and forced 17 turnovers to outscore the Lady Royals 24-0 from the 5:09 mark of the second quarter to the 4:19 mark of the third to secure the win. That allowed the Lady Norse (29-3) to expand a 31-17 lead to 55-17 and cruise the rest of the way.
“That’s kind of our style,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “We do that. We love to get up and down the floor and that comes with our defensive stops. Once we get those, I told that we’ll get to play our game, and that second quarter into the third helped us right there. We were able to expand our lead and take control of the game.”
Hatty Nawezhi added 13 points for NEO, which had four players total in double figures. Melinda Murillo added 11 for NEO, which advances to face No. 4 seed New Mexico Junior College at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday.
Cassidy Nelson came off the bench to lead Lake Region State (27-7) with 17 points. The rest of the team, however, struggled mightily, finishing just 12 of 56 (21.4 percent) from the floor and 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
“This is our third national tournament in the last three years. The last two years our twos and threes were like 7 for 70. Today just added to it,” Lake Region State head coach Danny Mertens said. “When you can’t shoot the ball you’re going to struggle. We talked about one of our big goals was when we’ve lost we’ve lost the rebounding battle and today we actually won the rebounding battle (46-37). It was just one of those things.”
There wasn’t a whole lot that went wrong for the Lady Norse in the first half. Northeast Oklahoma A&M shot a robust 55.9 percent (19 of 34) from the field and dominated in the paint, outscoring Lake Region State 28-12.
The Lady Norse also won the first-half rebounding battle 19-17 and had just three turnover while forcing 10 by the Lady Royals. Northeast Oklahoma A&M also had 10 assists on 19 baskets.
Defensively, the Lady Norse held Lake Region State to just 24 percent (6 of 25) from the field and shut them out from the 3-point line (0 for 6). That led the Lady Norse to outscore the Lady Royals 25-6 in the second quarter.
Suarez led all scorers with 13 points in the first 20 minutes while Hatty Nawezhi and Melinda Murillo added eight each. Cassidy Nelson led the Lady Royals off the bench with nine points.
The good news for NEO is it gets a day off before returning to action on Wednesday, something Rowland said couldn’t hurt after getting the opener out of the way.
“That first game is always the one that you worry about,” Rowland said. “You haven’t played in a week, I worry about us coming out how we’re going to shoot the ball. We were a bit sluggish at the start but I thought we did well and I’m very proud of the way we played.”